CS Spotlight Series with Computer Science Associate Professor, Dr. Grey Ballard!

Computer Science Associate Professor, Dunn-Riley Faculty Fellow, and WFU Alum, who played soccer during his undergraduate years here at Wake Forest! Let’s meet Dr. Grey Ballard!

Dr. Ballard, tell us a bit about yourself.  Where were you born and where have you lived?

I was born in Winston-Salem at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center, though it was called something else back then.  I grew up in a small town called Elkin not too far from Winston-Salem and lived there until I went to college at WFU.  From Winston-Salem I moved to the Bay Area in California for grad school and a postdoc, living there for about 8 years before returning to North Carolina.  My wife Parissa, also a Wake Forest alum, works at WFUBMC.  We have four children: Benson (8), Maz (6), Malone (3), and Leila (8 months).

What are a few of your favorite activities?

Now that spring is here we’re doing a lot of youth soccer, but we also really enjoy going on walks, hikes, bike rides, and generally being outside as a family.

What is something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet?  

Visit New Zealand.

What is the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

I was a temporary secretary for a lawyer in my small town one summer during high school.  He was old school (and old) and I had to learn how to use a typewriter, including filling in my own paychecks!

What is the most important life lesson you have learned to this point?

Highs are never as high and lows are never as low as they seem.  Having multiple pursuits/passions and surrounding yourself with supportive people help to weather the ups and downs.

Why a CS professor?   

I love problem solving.  I remember looking forward to homework assignments in CS (and math) classes in college and grad school, and I get the same thrill from a research problem I’m interested in or from figuring out the best way to present a clever idea in class or design a homework assignment so that the students will master it.

What is the best thing about Wake Forest?

To me, it’s the family atmosphere.  As a student, my professors knew me well and encouraged me in fundamental ways that put me on my career path.  As an instructor, I can now get to know my students well through small classes and well-attended office hours.  The culture of the faculty of staff, particularly in our department, is one of community and support.